Why the waste?

This messy ‘bring out your dead’ kerbside junk pile in Perth could soon be a thing of the past. Photo: Orla Latawski.

Street verges piled with waste could be a thing of the past as councils embrace a new way to do verge collections.

Verge Valet is an on-demand system where residents can pre-book for their household waste to be collected at a specific time.

The City of Vincent has recently approved a 12-month extension to the service after a trial began in January 2022.

Councillor Dan Loden is the chair of the Sustainability and Transport Action Group and says, in his personal opinion, the initiative has addressed previous issues with verge collections.

Councillor Dan Loden says the verge valet has been positively received. Photo: LinkedIn

“When people brought their stuff out and left it on the verge it was usually there a week or two before the collection days,” he says.

“Other people would come from other places and look through their stuff that they left on the verge, and then that would cause rubbish getting messed around on people’s verges.”

“[It was] causing issues just in terms of general amenity in the community.”

For some, verge collections are an opportunity to recycle other people’s unwanted items.

Huntingdale resident Lee D’Rozario collects household and garden waste and has expanded her garden with items found on the verge.

“I have 20 frangipani trees and there’s four different colours,” she says.

Lee D’Rozario collects plants from the side of the road. Photo: supplied.

“Doing my garden was very expensive so I started learning how to propagate from things that were on the side of the road.”

Any items she doesn’t use, she sells to other members of the community.

“[I thought] if I was looking for them, someone else might be looking,” she says.

“Three weeks ago, I picked up a pile of a type of plant … and I sold all of them for $200.

“I would honestly estimate I’ve made $1000 off plants from the side of the road.”

Lee D’Rozario has grown her garden from plants left on the verge. Video: supplied.

Councillor Loden says local community initiatives are encouraging people to change their perspective on waste.

“We’ve significantly reduced the amount of waste to landfill because people are using different pathways to get rid of their materials,” he says.

“With new things like ‘Buy Nothing’ local groups and so forth, people are actually recycling a lot or upcycling their stuff by passing it on to other people.”

Some items placed on the verge are still in good condition. Photo: Orla Latawski.

Buy Nothing groups exist in most suburbs of Perth and give residents the chance to gift and receive items within their community.

Kimberley Innes says she loves the feeling of giving items away on Buy Nothing. Photo: supplied.

Perth resident Kimberley Innes has been a member of Buy Nothing for the past six years and says the groups are a great way to reduce waste.

“I love Buy Nothing as a first step to avoid [waste] because things get a second or third life reducing landfill, reducing consumption and production unnecessarily.”

“It definitely creates more connections, and you feel a part of your local community more broadly.”

She hopes more people will consider buy nothing groups as an alternative to placing items on the verge.

“I just think of the amount of labour and material that has gone into every single item that’s sitting there on the verge that’s just been under appreciated or over consumed when people buy things that they don’t need.”

“They pass it on quickly or chuck it out and it’s heartbreaking.”

Ms Innes says there is a gender disparity when it comes to community initiatives like Buy Nothing.

Ms D’Rozario hopes more people will discover new ways to use their items.

Community members collect items from the verge and upcycle them. Photo: Catherine Giesige.

“No-one has the time or wants to read pages and pages of information so simplify it,” she says.

“Everything has a use, a second life somewhere, it’s just knowing where that second life is and how to make it happen.”